McMaster’s use of “provocative” and “destabilizing” to describe North Korea echoes administrations of both parties that have attempted to rally others on the global stage, including China, to help prevent fresh war on the peninsula. Trump used the language in his February visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Meanwhile, China has refused to commit to any specific course of action and as discussed earlier, Beijing made a plea for a return to negotiations. Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Monday that tensions need to be eased on the Korean Peninsula to bring the escalating dispute there to a peaceful resolution. Lu said Beijing wants to resume the multi-party negotiations that ended in stalemate in 2009 and suggested that U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea were damaging its relations with China.
Ultimately, Trump may be in wait and see mode for the next week until all the available options are on the table: on April 25, the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier is expected to reach the South Korea east coast on April 25. If Trump is indeed pressed to make a swift decision, he will surely do so once air support is available next weekend, just as the first round of the French presidential election takes place.